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Protect Alabama Workers From Occupational InjuryA flash of light. A clap of thunder. Lightning strikes a construction worker in Athens. While the worker lived, he is now disabled. He can no longer work or support his family. Can he recover Alabama workers’ compensation benefits for his disabling injury?

This is the issue faced by a recent client of mine. The worker survived only because two co-workers performed CPR until paramedics arrived. His physical injuries and rehabilitation were only part of the nightmare. When hospital personnel contacted the work comp insurance company, the adjuster immediately denied the claim on the basis it was an “act of God.” Think about the worker’s family. They stayed at his bedside for weeks not knowing whether he would live or how they would pay for his care. But, this injury SHOULD have been covered by work comp in this case.

Is lightning a work-related hazard? The short answer is that in the case of this outdoor construction worker struck while helping build the new Athens High School, it was. We were able to get work comp benefits for him. But, it took a fight to get him the workers’ compensation benefits he deserved. In most cases, the answer depends on the job.

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Huntsville Accident & Injury Attorneys / Blackwell Law FirmWhat is uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage? This coverage is commonly called UIM. This valuable coverage is provided through your automobile insurance policy. And, it provides compensation for your injuries when the at-fault driver does not have adequate liability insurance coverage. In Alabama, insurance companies must provide UIM coverage (at least in the minimum amount) on your policy unless you specifically waive it. You should never do that! In fact, you should talk with your agent about purchasing more than the minimum required limits.

Uninsured / Underinsured Coverage Protects Alabama Families Seriously Injured By A Negligent Driver

You are driving to work. Suddenly, another driver runs a red light and crashes into you. You are hurt. You start receiving medical bills. And, you are unable to work. When you make a claim against the at-fault driver you learn he had NO car insurance. I know – this is illegal. Even if he had the minimum coverage (currently $25,000), it would only cover a fraction of your damages. What should you do? If you have UIM coverage on your policy, then you can recover additional money to help with your damages.

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overweight-trucks-a-danger-to-alabama-drivers-1-638-300x169I’ve written a couple times about the danger of overweight commercial trucks. In recent years, the number of fatal highway accidents has declined. Cars are safer. The one area where the number of fatal accidents has increased — crashes involving large commercial trucks. In numerous posts, I’ve discussed the issues contributing to this increase. They include distracted driving, truck driver health and truck equipment. So, I thought it a good time to revisit the issue of overweight trucks.

Alabama is criss-crossed by Interstate highways. We’re all familiar with the big trucks on Interstate 65, Interstate 20 / 59 and Interstate 10. But, this is not just an issue for our Interstates and major highways. In some rural areas of our State, logging trucks are a frequent sight. These trucks are often overweight. If you drive the rural roads of Alabama, you’ve likely seen plenty of overloaded log trucks. They are a huge danger to other drivers.

I’ve prepared a slideshow which discusses the primary dangers of overweight trucks on our roads and highways. How does the extra weight put us at risk? What are the dangers? Here are four dangers of overweight trucks:

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Huntsville Injury LawyersWith poultry giant Tyson, the safety hits just keep coming! Last week, I wrote about Tyson managers actually gambling on worker safety. That is, managers abandoned their workers in the midst of a pandemic and then gambled on how many would get sick. That’s horrible. You can read my article titled When Management Bets Against Worker Safety on this blog.

The day after I published my latest article, I read about more poultry industry mis-conduct that puts worker lives at risk. According to a new article, Tyson managers actually directed language interpreters to misrepresent safety conditions to the company’s hispanic workers. You can read that article titled Tyson Accused of Misleading Interpreters at Virus-Hit Plant at the Claims Journal website.

Really? When Covid strikes its workforce, management abandons the plant floor. Management stops safety meetings. Management leaves the workers to fend for themselves. Then, management gambles on how many will get sick? Coronavirus has run rampant through poultry plants in Alabama and across the United States.

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Protect Worker Safety! Prevent Injury!The news is difficult to believe. When COVID-19 infections ravaged a Tyson poultry plant in Iowa, the company could have taken steps to protect workers. Yet, it did not. Instead, supervisors cancelled safety meetings, stopped going to the plant floor and decided to deny the exploding problem. Management protected itself and left workers to suffer. But, the story gets even worse. Supervisors started betting on how many workers would get sick with coronavirus. That’s right – Supervisors actually gambled on worker lives.

You can read more in CNN’s article, Managers at Tyson Meat Plant Had Betting Pool On How Many Workers Would Get Covid. How could supervisors gamble on human suffering? How could management so completely turn its back on worker safety?

While difficult to understand the depth of such depravity, the problem is larger than a few bad managers. Our system ignores systemic workplace safety violations. In the last year, I’ve written several articles about poultry plants in Alabama that have long histories of worker injuries and deaths. Despite their long histories of injuries and deaths, these plants have suffered almost no consequences. Here are a couple of my prior 2020 articles:

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Add-a-little-bit-of-body-text-200x300 Earlier this week, I was reading an article about a horrible Interstate crash involving a distracted trucker. The article packs several issues — Distracted driving. Bad driving record. Commercial truck crash. Potential punitive damages.

What happened? A car became disabled on the Interstate. Its driver put on her hazard lights, called authorities and waited patiently for help. While waiting, many other vehicles saw the disabled car, slowed and safely passed. The disabled car was clearly visible. Several minutes later, our trucker came down the Interstate. The trucker hit the disabled car without slowing at all. The trucker never even saw the car with its flashers right in plain view. He was not paying attention.

The crash caused terrible injuries. You can only imagine the impact of a full speed eighteen wheeler on a small, stationary car. At our office, we see many distracted driving crashes here in northern Alabama as well. Yet, there’s more to this truck crash. The truck driver in the article had a bad driving record. Why was he allowed to continue driving? The trucker had several prior accidents, including one where he even hit an overpass. And, he had also been cited multiple times for exceeding allowed driving hours. He had a history of being a careless and reckless driver. The trucking company clearly should NOT have allowed him to continue driving its trucks. But, it did. That company knew his record. Because the company knowingly allowed a dangerous driver to continue operating its trucks, it faces potential punitive damages.

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Huntsville Injury AttorneysWe share the road with big trucks. Most truckers are trained, safety-conscious drivers. Most truckers work hard to reach their destinations safely.

In past articles, I’ve discussed the health and safety issues truck drivers face. Truck driver health is a concern. Sitting long hours for your job. Sleeping away from home. Eating on the road. It is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many drivers face health issues. Diabetes. Obesity. Sleep apnea. Some of these health issues create safety risks on the roadway. The large companies employing truck drivers need to do a better job keeping their workforce healthy. You can read some of my past truck driver health and safety articles on this blog. In several of my past articles, I discuss important health issues facing truckers. On several occasions I’ve also written about problems and fraud in the medical certification system. Here, in Alabama, we’ve seen fraudulent medical certifiers put dangerous drivers on our roadways.

I’m not writing today about truck drivers. I’m writing about the trucks they driver. Are the commercial trucks on our roads and highways safe? Are trucking companies putting drivers on the road with dangerous equipment? We drive next to big trucks every day assuming they are safe. We assume those trucks have been maintained, serviced and properly equipped. But, recent studies indicate too many trucking companies put dangerous trucks on our highways.

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersInjured on the job in Alabama? Our work comp law requires you to notify your employer in order to receive benefits. You only have a short period of time to do so. You should notify your employer immediately in writing. To help, The Alabama Department of Labor even provides a standard form. The process should be simple? You have an accident. You tell your boss. You or your boss complete the written form. You receive work comp benefits.

In theory, it’s simple. The system was intended to be simple. In reality, it’s not always simple. Why? Some companies lie about accidents. Some companies really do NOT want to report any accidents or injuries. During the over two decades I’ve helped injured Alabama workers, I’ve tried multiple claims against a single manufacturing plant in Athens to verdict where the defense is always the same. In every single one of those cases, this employer did not report the accident when it happened. Later, the same employer lied about it. Don’t think I’m singling out one employer. I know several employers across northern Alabama who regularly refuse or fail to report accidents when they occur.

I receive several calls every month with a similar story. What is that story? The caller suffered a workplace accident. When it happened, he told the boss. But, nobody completed a written report. Sometimes, the worker initially thought he would be fine. So, he did not worry about it. Sometimes, the worker simply trusted the boss to take care of it. Several weeks later, the injured worker realized he needed medical care and asked the boss to provide a doctor. Suddenly, the boss “could not remember” any accident. Suddenly, the supervisor had no recall of any event. When that happens, your work comp claim will be denied.

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DRUNK-DRIVING-A-LEADING-CAUSE-OF-HIGHWAY-ACCIDENTS-INJURIES-AND-DEATHS-IN-ALABAMA-300x169Impaired Driving. Is it increasing? In recent months, many families have faced tremendous issues. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. The risk of sickness. The loss of jobs and income. The ever-changing schedules for school and work. The isolation of social distancing. For years, I’ve seen the devastating impact of isolation in my injured clients suffering chronic pain and disability. With COVID-19, others are also now experiencing the impact.

When I read recently that several local Alabama law enforcement agencies have faced increasing issues with intoxicated drivers, I was not surprised. The crises facing many workers increases problems with alcohol over-consumption. During difficult times, issues with alcohol and drugs often increase.

Around Decatur, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department recently reported that DUI arrests have increased 54% this year compared to last year. In Lawrence County, the Town Creek Police Chief reported DUI arrests have increased over 40% compared to last year. I discussed these statistics with a current car accident client who is also a police officer and he indicated many of his fellow officers noticed increasing issues. You can read a short article in the Insurance Journal reporting this issue by clicking HERE. That’s a significant increase. And, it means many more dangerous drivers are on Alabama roads.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Alabama Accident & Injury AttorneysYou suffered a car accident caused by another driver. You are injured. Suddenly, you face many questions. How can I get needed medical care? Will I heal quickly? What happens if I lose my job because I’m hurt? How will I pay my medical bills? How will I deal with the insurance company?

Then, you speak with the insurance adjuster. The adjuster may promise to help you quickly. The adjuster may even promise to pay your medical bills. It happens all the time — The adjuster acts like they are ready to pay your bills and take care of you. Most of the time, it’s not true. Most of the time, the adjuster wants to buy time to protect the insurance company.

The adjuster wants you to provide a recorded statement OR to sign an authorization so the insurance company can dig through your medical records OR simply to string you along. The adjuster tells you information is needed to get you paid. Maybe it is. More likely, it’s an effort to investigate your claim and look for potential reasons to deny it.

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